User’s conversations with Google Assistant are supposed to be one-on-one interactions with none getting an inkling of what the user is up to. Unfortunately, that isn’t how things have turned out to be in real life, with more than a thousand Dutch conversations with the Google smart assistant reaching the public domain.
If the above-mentioned leak isn’t worse enough, what has also come to the fore is that there are Google employees actually listening to what the users have spoken to the smart assistant. The Mountain View company, however, has acknowledged both the allegations and has said the leak is being investigated but defended the use of the human workforce listening to the conversation.
What should be equally disturbing is that even background conversations and that too containing sensitive user identifiable info got recorded without the user having to utter the trigger-phrase ‘Hey Google’ or ‘OK Google’. When confronted with the recordings, the particular individuals confirmed the voice samples as their own.
Google attributed the leak to a violation of terms by a language reviewer and that the company’s Security and Privacy Response teams have already started their damage control drill. That includes taking stock of the entire leak and devising means to prevent such a thing from happening ever again.
Google, however, said there is no way the entire process can be technology or device-driven as human help is needed to better understand the finer meaning of the various language accents. The company though said the human interpreters do not have the means to link the voice samples they are dealing with the users to whom those belong.
Google also said it’s just about 0.2 percent of all audio recordings that are presented to the human interpreters.
Meanwhile, Google also said users have the option to delete the recording that is stored in their accounts or disable recording anytime they please. This applies to all Android devices, Google Home smart speakers or Chromebooks that rely on Google Assistant to offer smart search options using voice commands.